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Republicans in the House haven’t learned the lesson of the Mid-term Elections

It’s business as usual in the Republican-led House of Representatives. Yesterday the House voted to overturn President Obama's immigration actions from last November -- and to unravel a directive from 2012 protecting immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children -- sending the bill to the Senate where it faces an uncertain fate.

The House voted 236-191 to approve the legislation, which funds DHS through the rest of the budget year to the tune of $40 billion. But as part of that bill, Republicans added provisions to gut the President's immigration directives. One of the approved amendments prohibits any agency of the federal government from using funds to carry out the expanded amnesty that Obama ordered when Congress refused to change immigraion law (237-190). The other would delete the President's policy that granted work permits and stays of deportation to more than 600,000 immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children (218-209). 

By attaching immigration-related amendments to the bill funding DHS in order to block President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, the House is reverting to its old tricks motivated by political gamesmanship. The Republicans don’t seem to get it. The public does not want their elected representatives to play the same games in conducting the "people's" business as it has done for the past six years. The public wants their elected representatives to represent its best interests and not those of a political party. The House has acted irresponsibly by jeopardizing funding for DHS. The House is playing with fire on the homeland security issue.

In the past the U.S. Senate Republicans have said it was unclear if they could pass a Department of Homeland Security funding bill that blocks President Obama’s immigration initiatives, raising an early stumbling block for the new Republican Congress. Senate Republicans acknowledged that the measure may not get the 60 Senate votes needed to clear procedural hurdles erected by Democrats.

Republicans have a 54-46 Senate majority and would need to persuade some Democrats to vote against Obama's executive action to lift the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants. The House measure attempts to ban money from being used to implement the order. The White House quickly came out and said the funding for DHS won't pass the Senate because of the amendments.

Several Senate Republicans said they were wary of risking an interruption in Homeland Security's $39.7 billion annual budget following the deadly attacks in Paris. Funding for the sprawling agency that secures U.S. borders, airports and coastal waters will be cut off on Feb. 27 if Congress and the White House cannot agree on a plan.

House Speaker John Boehner said "Our goal here is to fund the Department of Homeland Security. And our second goal is to stop the president's executive overreach." The only reason to tie the two together is to accomplish a goal that might otherwise not be accomplished -- overturning the President's executive orders on immigration. Boehner has exhibited a lack of moral leadership on this issue, which has been the bane of his positions since becoming House leader.

The public interest demands that Congress stop playing the same games that have stifled progress on a number of issues in this country for decades. We continue to do nothing to solve the immigration problem. Whether or not you agree with President Obama’s executive actions, it did (or should have) motivated Congress to deal with this issue sooner rather than later, but not tie it to a funding bill for DHS that is critical in light of the Paris bombings and other deadly attacks around the world. I fear that a sleeper cell in the U.S. will act to inflict damage and death on our citizens and the government will miss the red flags that such actions might happen here in our homeland.

While fully funding the DHS may not stop such attacks, it is the responsible thing to do in light of continuing violence and Islamic radicalism. While fully funding the DHS may not stop such attacks, I shudder to think how our collective consciousness will suffer if we don’t do all we can do to fund the DHS and an attack occurs. While fully funding the DHS may not stop such attacks, it is the right thing to do – the ethical action to take -- unimpeded by political gamesmanship.

Blog posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on January 15, 2015. Professor Mintz teaches in the Orfalea College of Business at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He also blogs at: